napowrimo day 28

by larapayne

Whittle

Complaints of the body seem frivolous,
just now, after leaving my father’s bed
at the hospital. He is fading away, flesh
stripping down in that terrible way
that cancer eats at a person. All
of these tiny inconveniences: my hip
sometimes loose, or small abrasions
on my hands, from clearing the garden
of an unwanted tree. And then, my children

how sometimes I am more aware
of their bodies than my own: each scrape
or bruise, nails that need to be cut,
or dry patches that need lotion. Manageable,
some part of me says, after holding
my father’s hand, and noticing his too-
long nails. Yellowing and thick, the nails
of someone in their eighties, not sixties.
But I’ve seen this before, this whittling
away, as cancer becomes the only thing that thrives
in a person. A sudden aging takes place. We’ve
reached that helpless stage
where we wonder if it wouldn’t be better,

but see, it is hard to even write it. Though we have
no choice, or control, we still think it. If it wouldn’t be
better if he were gone.

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